Faith Moment
July 8, 2013

Father Greg Boyle is in the business of erasing the past. A Jesuit priest who is the founder and director of "Homeboy Industries" in East Los Angeles, Father Boyle put together a team of physicians trained in the laser technology of tattoo removal. The team is part of a program that takes the tattoos of ex-gang members and wipes the slate clean. For many, it is as crucial a service.

Gang-related tattoos prevent many former gang members from getting jobs or advancing in work. For others, the markings critically impinge on mental health or put them in serious danger on the streets. There is no fee or community service required to receive the tattoo removal offered by Homeboy Industries. It is strictly a gift; perhaps a modern look at Christ washing the feet of his friends. At times, the waiting list has had more than a thousand names.

For those involved, the spiritual imagery is often compelling. The seeming permanence of a gang tattoo fosters the attitude that the gang's claim is also permanent. It is a mark of ownership as much as identity. The emotional consequence is that it seems a part of you that can never be shaken.

I suspect some of us have felt like this with past mistakes – sins whose mark we cannot shake off, though we know we have been cleansed by Christ. Perhaps the imagery of tattoo removal can evoke a renewed sense of our blessed assurance. Like the gang members who have had the marks of a former life removed, so we have had our sins blotted out by the blood of Christ. They are remembered no longer.

Your true identity is in Christ Jesus. He is your Lord. You belong to Him. As His son or daughter, every aspect of your life has been changed. This is your true identity.

With Love,

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